FRANCES YA-CHU COWHIG

Snow in Midsummer

BASED ON THE CLASSICAL CHINESE DRAMA BY GUAN HANQING

Executed for a murder she did not commit, young widow Dou Yi vows that if she is innocent, snow will fall in midsummer and a catastrophic drought will strike.

Synopsis

Executed for a murder she did not commit, young widow Dou Yi vows that if she is innocent, snow will fall in midsummer and a catastrophic drought will strike. Snow in Midsummer is a contemporary re-imagining of one of the most famous Classical Chinese dramas.

Three years ago, in a factory town called New Harmony, Dou Yi sells fresh palm weavings. She needs money to look after her ill mother-in-law, Mother Cai. Dou Yi is a young widow clinging to the memory of her husband and the new story they dreamed of - one story of two lives that are still being written – symbolised by her double happiness necklace, a blessing of their marriage.

Three years later...

In the present, New Harmony suffers a terrible drought. Tianyun, a businesswoman, arrives at Madam Wong’s bar, where factory workers are holding a rain dance. She’s preparing to take over the town factories, run by Handsome Zhang since his father died.

Handsome plans a new life, travelling with his partner, Rocket Wu, whilst Tianyun becomes concerned that her adopted daughter, Fei-Fei, starts to have night terrors. Fei-Fei is obsessed with Ghost Month, the old stories in The Records of the Grand Historian and she is ‘big on oaths’.

Spirits and dreams

When Handsome proposes to Rocket, Fei-Fei tries to stop it: proposing in Ghost Month invites the spirits in. Fei-Fei sleep-talks about injustice, coughing-up a double happiness necklace that Tianyun swears to wear, promising to help this hungry ghost who demands justice. The next morning, Fei-Fei tells her mother she has dreamed of playing in the snow and Tianyun finds scratches on her daughter’s arm: the characters spell Dou Yi.

Tianyun investigates, visiting the bar. Madam Wong tells her that Dou Yi killed Handsome Zhang’s father and was sentenced to death. When Rocket Wu doubles over in pain on the way to the factory, Doctor Lu, the town surgeon, reveals that he gave Rocket a heart transplant. Rocket is also dreaming of snow.

Officers outside the courthouse tell Tianyun that Dou Yi claimed she was innocent of murdering Master Zhang and this would be proven because her blood wouldn’t touch the ground, snow would fall in midsummer and a drought would last for three years.

Prophesies come true

When Tianyun finally persuades Fei-Fei to cut her nails (which is against Ghost Month superstition), a vision of the past appears in which Dou Yi is sentenced to death on the next day. At this execution, Dou Yi’s first two prophesies come true. No blood falls on the ground. It snows in midsummer. Has she been unjustly treated? Is this the cause of the drought?

The ghost of Dou Yi watches as disaster engulfs New Harmony and it is down to Tianyun, who has her own secrets, make things just - for the town and the future.

Synopsis and sign names in British Sign Language:

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